The stock market is up. Compared to what?

The stock market is up a fraction over 1% for the week. But what does that mean? Dshort.com is one of the best websites for putting the stock market into perspective.

For instance, this chart from today shows the S&P 500 is up almost 88% from its March 9, 2010 low. It's about 19% below its October, 2007 high. The charts on the website offer a wealth of long-term data, much of it adjusted for inflation. .

Among the worst personal finance ideas during real estate bubble--there's plenty of competition too--was that people should go into retirement with a mortgage. It was so-called savvy finance--Not. This story gives three reasons for paying off your mortgage before retirement: Tax flexibility, disaster management and peace of mind.

Everyone has this story: Massachusetts's highest court ruled against U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo in a foreclosure case. The ruling drove down bank stocks. But the savvy fokls at Calculated Risk highlight that the concurring--and devastating opinion--by Justice Cordy:

I concur fully in the opinion of the court, and write separately only to underscore that what is surprising about these cases is not the statement of principles articulated by the court regarding title law and the law of foreclosure in Massachusetts, but rather the utter carelessness with which the plaintiff banks documented the titles to their assets. There is no dispute that the mortgagors of the properties in question had defaulted on their obligations, and that the mortgaged properties were subject to foreclosure. Before commencing such an action, however, the holder of an assigned mortgage needs to take care to ensure that his legal paperwork is in order. Although there was no apparent actual unfairness here to the mortgagors, that is not the point.

The robo-signing scandal and other sloppy procedures with foreclosures isn't going away. Property rights isn't a technicality. It's the basis of a capitalist system. The uncertainty will weigh on the housing market.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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